Black Diamond Storm Headlamp Review

I got the Black Diamond Storm headlamp a couple of years ago after I got tired of Black Diamond Storm Headlampreplacing the duck tape holding the back of my old headlamp together. When I was looking at headlamps, I knew I wanted something relatively light, but still powerful, and I wanted it to be versatile, with a more than a couple of options for adjusting the brightness levels. The Black Diamond Storm headlamp is all of that and more.

First off, the variety of lighting options is amazing, and the headlamp helps you see what you’re doing in any situation. The main light is a QuadPower LED, with 160 Lumens, and is ridiculously powerful. The maximum distance for it is 70 meters, more than enough for most of the things one would be doing. If that’s too bright, you can switch to the two SinglePower LEDs, with 25 Lumens. While the main LED is better for looking down the trail or a distant objects, these are much better suited for up-close tasks like walking around your campsite, reading a map in the dark, and talking to someone at night without blinding them. The last set of lights is the pair of SinglePower red LEDs, which is good to use if you don’t want to kill your night vision.

So those are the lights, but what can you do with them? A lot of things! The Storm headlamp has one main button that can be used to adjust the lights to suit all of your needs.

  • Clicking the button once turns it on and off, and each time you power it off and then on again, it will switch between distance and proximity modes (the single LED and the two white LEDs).
  • While the headlamp is on, holding down the button will let you dim the light down from 160 to 25 Lumens. Just release it when you get to the desired brightness.
  • With Black Diamond’s PowerTap technology, once you dim the light, you can quickly switch between low and max brightness by tapping the housing of the headlamp.
  • Holding down on the button while the headlamp is off turns it on with the red night vision LEDs. Do the same thing to switch back to normal lighting.
  • Triple-clicking the button when the headlamp is off activates strobe mode.
  • Lastly, holding down the button for 6 seconds while the headlamp is off will lock the headlamp. (A blue light will appear in the battery power meter window, indicating it’s locked.)

This last mode is extremely useful. Locking it prevents the headlamp from powering on if the button is pressed while in your backpack, so you’ll never have to worry about accidentally running down the battery. You can check the battery level by simply turning it on, and the battery power meter on the side of the headlamp will light up for 3 seconds, letting you know how much power you have left.

Lastly, there’s the housing of the headlamp. The headlamp is waterproof up to 1m of water for 30 minutes, so basically you’ll be safe as long as you don’t take it snorkeling. I’ve used it multiple times in the rain, and it still works perfectly. Another cool feature is that the battery casing can be opened with the clip on the headband, allowing you to easily change batteries on the the trail. (Or at home, since you may not want the weight of extra batteries in your pack.)

There were a couple things I didn’t like about the Storm headlamp. At 3.9 oz, it’s heavier than some of the other headlamps I’ve used, and may take some getting used to. The battery case is also pretty cramped with 4 AAA’s, and it took some work to get the lid completely closed.

Some may find the weight and $49.95 price tag off putting, but I thought that the wide range of settings and quality construction of the Black Diamond Storm headlamp definitely made up for it. If you’re looking at headlamps, I’d definitely recommend checking this one out!


Kent Falls State Park Hike

This past summer, during the college-visit process, I was staying in Connecticut. Luckily, Kent Falls Entranceamid the jumble of college tours and application essays, I was able to get out a few times and relax. On one such day, for a short hike, I went to Kent Falls State Park with my family. The park is very green-like much of Connecticut-and the falls for which the park is named are amazing. In the park, there’s one small trail loop that takes you up around the falls and through a portion of the forest and, of course, there’s the park itself, which is a wide, slightly sloping expanse of grass, perfect for a picnic or game of Frisbee.

We wanted to see the falls from the top, so we took the trail loop up along side the waterfall. The trail is pretty steep, but a large portion of the trail to the Kent Fallsright of the falls is paved, or has steps, so it’s not too hard to hike up. (It’s about a quarter of a mile to the top, and the falls have a vertical height of around 200 feet.) Spaced regularly up the falls are wooden lookouts (great for taking photos) that jut out to the edge of the falls so you can get a bit closer without any dangerous excursions onto the rocks alongside the falls. While the trail and lookouts are regularly maintained, you should probably keep an eye on your children and make sure they don’t try to get close enough Top of the Fallsto touch the water.


The park is a great place to relax and the trail is short enough to be doable by people of all ages. On the weekends, there’s a parking fee of $9 for Connecticut cars and $15 for out-of-state cars, however during the week parking is usually free. It’s definitely worth it though for a relaxing hike and great look at the falls!

REI Passage 65 Backpack Review

Hey everyone! I’ve been pretty busy this semester, but I wanted to share this review with you. Hope you enjoy it!

By now, I’ve had the REI Passage 65 Backpack for 4 years, and have used it on quite a few backpacking trips. It has held up very well, is still in very good condition, and I’ve never had any problems with the pack on any of my trips. In this post I’ll review and discuss the different components of the backpack.

The backpack’s shoulder straps, hipbelt, and back padding are simple, but are well designed and very comfortable even if you are carrying heavy loads. The mesh on the back is somewhat breathable, however it doesn’t really allow air to circulate like the backings of some of the other backpacks on the market, such as the Osprey Aether 60 Pack. The shoulder straps and hipbelt are also extendable to accommodate growth, which extends the life of the pack for younger kids and teenagers. The back padding is adjustable to accommodate torso lengths of 15-19 inches.

The backpack’s top-loading main compartment, sleeping bad compartment, and two zip pockets make it very easy to organize gear. In total the backpack has a gear capacity of 65 liters. I’ve found that the main compartment has enough room to hold and organize the majority of my gear, and the zip access on the side lets me access items buried in the main compartment without unloading the whole pack. Even for my five-day backpacking trip, I was able to easily fit everything inside the bag and didn’t have to clip anything to the external daisy chains. If you don’t want to use the sleeping bag compartment, there’s a divider that can be unzipped to increase the space in the main compartment. For smaller items, I always use what REI aptly calls the “front essential zip pocket”. For the most part, I use it for items I may need to access quickly, like the 10 essentials.

The floating lid on the backpack is very useful and can even be detached and used as a lumbar pack. I often use the zip pocket on the lid to store snacks or a camera, so that when I set my pack down they are easily accessible. In addition to this, the lid’s connecting straps are extendable to accommodate a larger load in the main compartment.

The two mesh water bottle holders on the sides of the pack are large enough to hold 1-liter sized bottles, but they aren’t tall enough to hold the bottles in securely. I had a “fun” experience in which my water bottle fell out as I was crossing a river, but after a mad dash down the bank, I was able to snag it with a branch. If you’re not hoping for a similar exciting experience, I’d recommend passing the side compression strap around the bottle to better secure it.

Some other useful components of the REI Passage 65 Backpack include sleeping pad straps on the underside of the pack, elastic cord crisscrossing the front of the pack (which can be used to hold a jacket in place on the outside of the pack), ice axe loops, side compression straps, and water-repellent zippers. The water-repellent zippers were a lifesaver when they saved my gear from getting wet in Washington when it started raining and my backpack cover seemed to have suddenly disappeared.

As a simple backpack that’s great for scouts, teenagers, and older kids, the Passage 65 Backpack does its job well. It was just as comfortable to wear on an overnight backpacking trip in the desert as it was on a five-day trip in Mt. Rainier National Park. I’d highly recommend this backpack for scouts and older children. It’s relatively cheap, very durable, and the option to extend the shoulder straps and hipbelt allows the backpack to be used by children even as they continue to grow.

Good luck finding an awesome backpack and I hope I was able to help!

Mt. Rainier National Park Backpacking Trip – Day 5

After a quick breakfast of ramen noodles, we packed our bags for our last day ofLooking back from the trail backpacking. The day started out with a steep uphill with plenty of switchbacks. The trail soon turned into the Spray Park Trail and we were rewarded with amazing views of misty mountains and winding creeks. Hiking on the trail, we crossed a lot of small creeks and began seeing more and more snow. We rested for a few minutes when we reached a small pond shaped almost exactly like the yin and yang symbol.

After we began again, we soon came to a point in the trail with bowls of snow on either side of the trail. This was too good of an opportunity to miss! We dropped our packs and were soon immersed in an intense, really cold snowball fight. (We had to pause a few times to let our hands warm up a bit.) However, we soon had to leave and got back on the trail.

Hiking up the snow covered mountainWithin a few minutes of hiking we reached a steep slope completely covered in snow. We were able to see where the trail continued only due to the depressions in the snow from other hikers’ boots. Slipping a bit now and then, we made our way up the hill. After resting for a few minutes at the top of the hill, we continued on along the trail as it took us around the edge of a snow covered mountain as fog began rolling in.

We stopped for lunch on the edge of a giant snow field and had a great view of the peak ofView of Mt. Rainier next to giant snow field Mt. Rainier. However, as the fog continued to roll in, Mt. Rainier was soon covered and we couldn’t see further than 40 feet in front of us, aside from dark, blurry shapes. To the right side of the trail,nothing was visible and it seemed like the mountain ended after 40 feet. We split into two groups and had another intense snow fight. (After all, who’d want to miss such an amazing opportunity?)

We moved on after 2 hours, somewhat wet but with high spirits. The trail continued Spray Park Trail in the mistthrough the snow field for half a mile before continuing downhill and into the trees. The mist was pretty dense in the trees and we got somewhat damp. When we got to a fork in the trail with a sign for the Spray Falls Viewpoint, we left our packs and went left, towards the falls. The falls are immense and the roar from the falls and the river is very loud. The water rushed around the rocks we were standing on, which were pretty slippery. (Watch where you step here – falling in the river would really ruin your day.)

Upon getting back to our packs, we continued on, passing the Eagle Cliff Viewpoint. (It’s Mowich Lake camping areaprobably really nice when there’s no fog, but with the fog there’s nothing to see.) The trail continued uphill for the last couple of miles before coming out in the Mowich Lake camping area. The camping area is completely open and is arranged in a ring around a fenced-off wildlife preserve. There are tables at each site and raised platforms to pitch tents on. There are also enclosed pit toilets, which I must say seemed very nice after the open toilets on the trail.

For dinner we had Mountain House freeze-dried “Beef Stroganoff with Noodles” and hot chocolate from powder pouches. I didn’t have any high expectations for the stroganoff, but it actually turned out very good! We went approximately 7 miles on the last day and played another game of cards before going to bed.

In total, on our trip we went 45.2 miles, with a cumulative elevation gain of 14, 831 feet and a loss of 12,266 feet. So far, this has been my all time favorite trip. There’s nothing more refreshing than leaving the city and spending a few days backpacking in the wilderness. The scenery is beautiful in Mt. Rainier National Park and is so different from the desert scenery of Southern California. I hope to go on another week-long backpacking trip soon!

Good luck on all of your travels and I hope you have an awesome time backpacking wherever you go!